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This article was prepared for the December 12, 2001 edition

of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

After September 11, An Empty Sky

The date September 11 provokes many images in its

survivors. Donna Clovis invokes the catastrophic events of that tragic

morning with the idea of "The Empty Sky."

Clovis, a photojournalist and Princeton Junction resident who commutes

to her job as Web director at New York University, had taken the day

off work on September 11 — a rarity for her. In the days following

the tragedy in lower Manhattan she worked to document both the impact

of the disaster and the endeavors of the human spirit as people

struggled

to recover from the tragedy.

Clovis has brought her photographs together in the show, "The

Empty Sky," which opens at the Rubel Studio and Gallery in

Kingston

with a reception on Friday, December 14, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Her black

and white and infra-red photographs include images of the Manhattan

skyline that she happened to shoot on Sunday, September 9, from

Hoboken

where she was on assignment.

"`The Empty Sky’ is dedicated to my train community," says

Clovis. "I commute from Princeton Junction on New Jersey Transit

and Amtrak. The people on the trains are a community. Over the years,

friendships have developed. There are those you know and those you

don’t know, but the faces are familiar. It’s the guy you always see

in the coffee shop with a bagel, or the woman with the dark hair and

unusually shaped brown bag who walks by every morning at the same

time."

Clovis has been commuting for Manhattan for six years, since she made

the transition from teaching (she was named New Jersey teacher of

the year for her work at Princeton’s Riverside School) to Columbia’s

School of Journalism. She has worked as a producer at ABC and is now

web director for a new online magazine at NYU.

"When the disaster struck, our train community was

devastated,"

says Clovis. "Many of us had only our New York work phone numbers,

since that’s the time we can get together. Many did not know how to

contact each other’s families. We wondered who had gotten out of the

trade center. Those faces we didn’t really know, where they still

alive?

"Over the weeks to come, as I photographed the relief efforts

and the memorials in New York, I eagerly looked for the people I knew

on the train," she says. "Thankfully, most of the faces

reappeared.

Those that survived had many horrific stories to tell, while others

perished. And then there were those about whom I can only say, `I

know his face, but I don’t know his name.’ They never appeared at

all."

One of Clovis’s train companions worked on the 54th floor of the trade

center. Moments before the first plane struck, he had got up from

his chair to head into the stairwell to get a snack. He was thrown

to the floor of the stairwell and just kept on going to safety. Others

tell of walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and walking and walking,

not knowing where they were or where they were going.

"We commuters come from different states and different places,

but we all meet on the train to work in New York. Our train community

is recovering slowly, but it’s going to take some time," says

Clovis.

Donna Clovis, The Empty Sky, Photography at the

Rubel Studio, 4454 Main Street, Kingston. Opening reception Friday,

December 14, 6 to 7:30 p.m.


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